Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The "Legends of Oz" Could Return After All

Last year, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, the first in a planned series of animated feature films based on Roger S. Baum's Oz books, impressed neither critics nor audiences. With an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes and a total worldwide gross of just $18.7 million (against a reported budget of at least $70 million), the film was, quite frankly, a flop. I've recently learned, however, that we may not have seen the last of the Legends of Oz franchise despite the failure of its first entry...

Conceptual artwork for
Star Guardians
Though Dorothy's Return was released as the first and only film from production company Summertime Entertainment, funding for the project was actually achieved over the span of eight years by investments in Dorothy of Oz, LLC; Emerald City of Oz, LLC; and Alpine Pictures, LLC. As Dorothy's Return was nearing completion, Summertime began developing a separate franchise, Star Guardians, which was to be funded by investments in Star Team, LLC. It now seems that all four of these entities have now been combined with something called Stereo Vision Entertainment, Inc. to create a "new, publicly traded company" called Inspirational Vision Media, LLC that plans to "launch marketing campaigns, call centers, and a P&A fund to promote IVM and SVE and to produce their stand-alone LLC film projects."

One of these film projects is what appears to be a second entry in the Legends of Oz film franchise, vaguely referred to in Inspirational Vision Media's joint venture plan (which you can read in its entirety here) several times as Back to Oz and once as Return to Oz. Per this plan shared with investors in the aforementioned LLCs, the newly formed company is looking to further exploit the Oz brand by releasing a new film with a "four wall, multi-media" marketing strategy that might also include apps and television projects. Because the wording in this plan is so vague, it is also possible that instead of (or even in addition to) producing a second Legends of Oz film, the company is simply planning to re-release the first film in some way, maybe even under a different title in an effort to "re-launch" the franchise. Either way, I think it's interesting that there is an effort being made to keep the Legends of Oz franchise alive (and to finally "generate earnings for the investors").

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
executive producer Greg Centineo
Interestingly, none of the key players from the first film are mentioned in either the press release or in the joint venture plan. While Summertime Entertainment is all but confirmed to have been disbanded (or perhaps more accurately, a-bandoned), it is unclear if or how any of its founders and producers, such as Ryan Carroll, Roland Carroll, Bonne Radford, and Greg Centineo, will be involved in the franchise moving forward. I can't find anything online, however, to suggest that they've parted ways and are working on other projects. In fact, the only one of these four players that seems to be doing anything right now is Greg Centineo, who is one of the founders of Pulse Evolution Corporation, the "digital human animation studio" that created the hologram performances of Michael Jackson for the Billboard Music Awards last year and of Tupac for the Coachella Music Festival a couple of years earlier. Greg has also formed something called Tradition Studio, which supposedly produces "family-focused features" and houses "a state-of-the-art animation studio."

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return took almost eight years to make from development to release and failed to make back its budget despite a roster of "name" voice talent, a wide theatrical release, a decent marketing campaign, and a number of licensing deals and merchandise tie-ins; so personally, I'm not sure at this point if it's worth the effort or even possible to save the franchise, especially since IVM's plan suggests raising an additional $100 million from investors to do so. I guess time will tell if anything substantial comes from the forming of this company and if/how its plans for Legends of Oz materialize.

I'm curious, though, what do you think? Are you interested in seeing the Legends of Oz return, and, if so, how would you like to see the franchise move forward? Share your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE: A "revised" plan for Inspirational Vision Media has surfaced, in which investors are assured that progress is making made in efforts to "turn around" the Oz franchise. Interestingly, Star Team, LLC is no longer a part of IVM, though IVM still holds the option to acquire it in the future. Revisions to the plan previously discussed include confirmation that there are plans (or hopes, at least) to re-release Dorothy's Return under a new title. Also confirmed is the intention to "generate a continuing flow of new content" from other books by Roger S. Baum. (Only seven of his books were initially optioned for development as feature films by Alpine Pictures, but IVM mentions ten.)


rocketdave said...

Legends of Oz was better than I expected it to be. I think some of the harsh reviews it got were due to unfavorable comparisons to the MGM movie. It wasn't fantastic, but I was surprised that I found it mostly enjoyable. However, considering how long it took to complete the movie and how poorly it fared at the box office, I'm a little dubious about the franchise continuing. Then again, the stigma of a box office failure might not affect "Legends of Oz" the way it would affect some other film. I wouldn't be surprised if much of the general public doesn't really get the distinction between various Oz-related properties. I mean, just look at how many people didn't realize that Oz The Great and Powerful wasn't an official prequel to the Judy Garland movie. If a sequel to "Legends of Oz" were to be made, a lot of people might see it as just another Oz thing rather than drawing the connection between it and that Oz movie that bombed. The fact that so many people seemed to be unaware of "Legends of Oz" is perhaps something in its favor.

Personally, I think there was nothing that bad about the movie itself that would make a sequel unviable, so if they want to make a direct-to-DVD movie (which some suggest is what they should have done in the first place) or something, I'd be okay with that. Then again, at this point, I'm not sure if it wouldn't be just as easy if not easier for someone else to start over from scratch with an entirely unrelated Oz film and/or TV show or whatever.

Lisa Valenti said...

Legends definitely needed a bit of tweaking. Dorothy appeared to not even be pretty. And pretty much modernized Kansas and her Aunt and Uncle too much. Oz always had a sense of nostalja and Legends needed to have more naïveness to its storyline, yet believability! When treading on Ozian waters one needs to be careful to its cult following.

Bobby D.Corrente said...

Its another scam.don't invest they are in for a major lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see this feature make it to the small screen. Remember the nights, as a child, waiting for Disney's Sunday night movie? Legends of Oz would be perfect in that setting.

After all, The Wizard of Oz barely broke even at the box office, yet it became a TV sensation for decades and continues to attract a new audience. With all the violence and chaos in the world, wouldn't be nice to curl up with the little ones for some family entertainment at home?